Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Freezing Out the Conflict

Ten of the California stem cell training grants awarded last week went to institutions that have representatives on the committee that approved the multimillion dollar programs.

However, the California stem cell agency went to excruciating lengths to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest, barring committee members from discussing or voting when their institution's application was considered.

Oversight Committee members were given only bowdlerized summaries of the grant applications, which were solely identified by an alphanumeric code, along with funding recommendations from an agency working group. The summaries were identical to the material available on the Internet. Names of the institutions and individuals were blacked out.

Privately ahead of the meeting, individual committee members were notified that they could not participate in discussion when an application with a particular code came up. None of the committee members knew when another was barred from discussion, according to CIRM officials.

And when the actual vote was taken, the name of the committee member whose institution was seeking funds was not called during the roll call. Sphere: Related Content

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